Why it matters

Consumer awareness is essential to changing consumer behaviour. Generally, the public do not associate the use of salt with high blood pressure and stroke, unlike the common understanding of the link between sugar and diabetes. Consumers are also often not aware of the major sources of sodium in their diet because the high sodium levels in some foods are mostly hidden. Raising awareness of the health impact of high salt consumption and the major sources of sodium in diets will influence consumer behaviour and increase demand for lower-salt food products – a key objective of a sustainable reduction in salt consumption.

What needs to be done

Strategic health education and communication for diet has been identified as a “best buy” because of its demonstrated cost-effectiveness (1). Successful education and communication strategies can lead to changes in social norms related to salt in foods, increased demand for healthier and lower-salt products and, subsequently, improvements in overall health for individuals and communities. The development of communication strategies to influence behaviour should be informed by research, strategically planned to ensure maximum impact, and should include education, social marketing and the use of innovative platforms such as mobile telephones to deliver the messages.

Once again, SHAKE is able to help by providing an evidence base of effective education and communication strategies and designs which can be used as models for countries to create their own. The examples vary hugely in size and scope, from a campaign for 95 million people in China to small-scale targeted campaigns run by NGOs. Thus the SHAKE package can support the needs of any country. SHAKE also provides advice and working examples of how governments can collaborate with stakeholders – including the food industry and other partners who can influence the broader food environment – in order to maximize the impact of a campaign.

1. From burden to “best buys”: reducing the economic impact of NCDs in low- and middleincome countries. Geneva: World Health Organization; 2011.